42RLE Transmission Replacement - '04 Jeep Liberty

Discussion in 'How To' started by runfor5, Dec 30, 2019.

  1. runfor5

    runfor5 New Member

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    Dec 29, 2019
    42RLE Removal and Replacement [2004 Jeep Liberty Sport] ---
    Figured I would contribute finally after using all the helpful information on the forums over the last few years! I inherited a ’04 Jeep Liberty (Sport trim) by means of my wife back in 2014 with about 75k miles on it. I am a GM guy, so all this Chrysler stuff was new to me. While I’ve spent too much $$ keeping this car running at this point, it has taught me more than I previously knew about car mechanical details and I’d be lying if I said I had not enjoyed the projects here and there lol.

    In 2017 at only 115k miles, the transmission went out… what crap. The car has the 42RLE 4-speed trans which yes, I’ve read people hate and the 45RFE is superior. Alas, in the name of no car payment, we decided to take the plunge and swap the old transmission out for a refurbished one.

    Obviously, I am writing this now in basically 2020, so socket sizes, steps, etc. may be somewhat out of order, missing, or slightly incorrect. However, during the swap, I could find no step-by-step transmission swap guide specifically for our 2004 and the 42RLE trans. Given the length of time since doing this job, you’ll notice lots of holes for sure in my write-up. Feel free to comment and I can revise. Also see photos as those are arguably more helpful and can assist in following along. So here it goes.

    **Use common sense judgement and adhere to all safety precautions noted on/with your tools. I hold no responsibility for any injuries or damage caused by following this write-up**

    LINK TO PHOTOS --- https://imgur.com/a/qiwdo1V

    Removal of transmission:

    1. Place vehicle up on ramps and put parking brake all the way on! Place rock or something behind the back wheels. As you see, we did this in a gravel driveway at my folks house. We were up on ramps both with 2 pieces of 2x4 under them – so as to gain clearance to lower the trans down and out later on.

    a. *We did all this with 1 floor jack – no transmission jack needed*

    2. Place the transmission in Neutral and the transfer case in Neutral.

    a. *neither of these may be necessary I cannot recall… *

    3. Disconnect battery.

    4. Drain transmission oil fluid (remove the pan). This helps remove some weight. It will continue to drain forever FYI so keep your catch pan there.

    5. Drain the coolant system. You have to remove heater hoses. Could probably do just that, but we did radiator at the same time so it was required for us.

    6. Remove coolant reservoir. Disconnect hoses at bottom.

    7. Remove air filter box and intake hoses all the way back to the throttle body.

    8. Remove oil filler neck. This allows space to remove the heater hoses.

    9. Remove front grille facia (the plastic part that is body colored).

    10. Putting a drain pan underneath to catch fluid, remove the transmission oil cooler located (if looking at the front of the car) to the lower left of the power steering cooler. See picture. It’s a long horizontal black thing. We also replaced the radiator which made access here easier, but not necessary.

    a. **our ’04 Sport had a factory tow hitch on it which included a factory trans oil cooler. This part is ONLY available from the dealer. About $275. The version sold on RockAuto (at this time) was not correct for our vehicle. Do your research here.

    b. If swapping the transmission, it is HIGHLY recommended you replace this and the trans oil cooler lines (also ONLY available from the dealership from what I saw) in case metal pieces got into them from the old trans crapping out. Do it. Don’t skimp if committing to a job this size already.

    11. Remove trans oil cooler lines. These run from the cooler up front, along the passenger side, to the transmission. Remove at the transmission too.

    a. **I took the heater hoses off as well to replace the valve cover gaskets during this job too. Can’t recall if those made it easier to access trans oil cooler lines.

    12. Head back under the car now… remove trans oil cooler lines and all electrical connections from the transmission on both sides. This includes the input & output trans speed sensors. There are additional connections (maybe 3?) on the top which you will gain access to later once lower the trans slightly – see below.

    13. Remove the shifter cable assembly, attached via a bracket (take that off too) from the transmission.

    14. Remove the starter + heat shield on driver side of vehicle.

    15. Remove the Y-pipe exhaust assembly. Disconnect it right ahead of the muffler – easy. Disconnect it from the exhaust manifolds – PITA. The connection at the manifolds are these stupid v-band clamps which I now despise.

    16. Remove the secondary driveshaft – the one that connects from transfer case to drive the front wheels when 4WD engaged. 8mm wrench.

    17. Remove the primary driveshaft from back of the transmission. If able to, just drop it down and keep connected to rear axle.

    18. I am fuzzy here…. But remove the transfer case. I believe it bolted to the back of the transmission (?). Unbolt and should slide off since you took out driveshaft. I would have to climb back under car to look again.

    a. **There is a seal between where the transfer case mounts to the transmission, a rubber circular gasket. Upon removal we noticed our gasket was torn. A new one was a DEALER ONLY part of less than $10. I would replace anyhow just to be safe.

    19. Drain the trans oil fluid from the transfer case. You will be doing a DRY FILL of BOTH the transfer case and transmission at the end remember.

    20. Placing your floor jack under the transmission cross member support and stabilizing, remove all cross-member bolts. I believe 3 (?) on each side.

    21. Loosen (but do not yet remove) the bolts holding the transmission to the flywheel / back of engine.

    22. Slightly lower your floor jack (holding the transmission) and look up top the trans. Here you will see those additional electrical connections noted earlier + access to the remaining trans/engine connection bolts. Undo connections and remove these bolts.

    23. Remove previously loosened bolts holding trans to engine.

    24. Lower your jack, pull it towards rear of the vehicle – halfway there! Transmission is out! Take a break and grab a well-deserved beer.

    There are numerous companies who will sell you a refurbished transmission. I was between Jasper and Street Smart Transmission Authority. I ended up going with Street Smart. Idk why, they did have a 3-year unlimited mile warranty, but I’m sure others did too. Their customer service was great I will say, over phone and email, to return our old transmission + deal with some post-install issues I have had with the unit in it just being a 42RLE lol (that should be another post). My 3-year warranty period ends in March ’20 and the car has 141,xxx miles on it now.
  2. runfor5

    runfor5 New Member

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    Dec 29, 2019
    Installation of new transmission:

    1. As seen in photos, the new refurbished transmission came with the valve body separately shipped and packaged. Ensure its cleaned (wipe down) and if necessary, install to it the shift solenoid.

    2. We pulled the old valve body out of the bad transmission to compare.

    a. *Now here is where memory does not serve me… there are 2 metal cylinders you can see in the photos – one says “45” and one “8”. These fell out of the valve body from distinct sides – one from passenger and one from drivers’ side. They need to go back in the correct spots. So pay attention when they fall out upon removal of your old valve body.

    b. I cannot remember if the new valve body came with these or if we had to re-use. Perhaps my photos are clearer to someone else than I? haha

    3. New flywheel bolts were provided and to be installed with the new transmission. When installing these, you (preferably a friend) need to turn the engine manually via the serpentine belt. This allows you access to the 3 (or 4) bolts. Torque to 45 Ft. Lbs. – see photo “Flexplate-Bolts”.

    4. Using floor jack, raise the new trans into place behind the motor. Slide forward into the back of the engine and flywheel.

    5. While on the floor jack and not yet fully raised, re-bolt, re-connect, and install those top side electrical connections which are not accessible otherwise later on in the process.

    6. Tighten engine to trans bolts to 34 Ft. Lbs. – see photo “Rear Mount to Transmission-Bolts”.

    7. Once everything is installed with respect to the trans and top side connections, raise up the jack and bolt back on the cross-member.

    8. Install all other items backwards as you removed them: transfer case, front and rear driveshafts, trans oil cooler lines (up front and into the trans), trans oil cooler up front, starter + heat shield, exhaust Y-pipe, front grill facia, etc.

    9. Fill back up your coolant system to necessary level.

    10. Fill up the transmission AND transfer case with Mopar transmission fluid. **Remember this is a DRY FILL so it takes more quarts than a standard transmission fluid flush.

    11. Once about ¾ full of transmission fluid, start car and run through the gears to move about the trans oil. Continue filling until necessary level is reached on the transmission oil fluid dipstick.

    A job this size and with this much removed, makes it a great time to replace other parts. I know that is easier said than done given the $$ but it is much better than doing it later on. In addition to this transmission swap + trans oil cooler + trans oil cooler lines, we did the following:

    · Valve cover gaskets (allows you to use carb cleaner and clean up the valves as seen in photo)

    · Heater hoses (have to remove on passenger side anyways if you ever need to replace valve cover gasket on that side)

    · Oil change

    · Water pump

    · Radiator

    · Starter

    Think of what else you could do – alternator, CAI swap, exhaust manifolds + gaskets, AC condenser, power steering pump + lines + cooler, new exhaust system, etc.

    Also do yourself a favor and clean, prime, and paint all parts you take off. Hell, sandblast too if you want. That is the single greatest benefit to doing your own car work and will help keep the rust away, so your car lasts longer. Don’t think I have to tell the folks here that though :p

    Feel free to comment where I need editing, missing steps, could add socket sizes, etc. all so as to make it easier for the next guy or gal. I have posted some photos of torque specs too which we used. Thanks again for all I’ve taken from the forum over the years!
  3. LibertyTC

    LibertyTC Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

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    Oct 24, 2008
    B.C. Canada
    You are a brave man. To tackle this sizeable job yourself in a gravel driveway deserves bonus points, good work !!
    Happy to hear you went with a crate 42RLE w/warranty.
    Was this done over a week or so with all the extra accessories,gaskets,paint etc?
  4. runfor5

    runfor5 New Member

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    Dec 29, 2019

    Thanks! Haha it was quite the job, but do-able no doubt. Of course car problems never happen in good weather; it was a cold snowy January that year here in the mid-Atlantic. We did it over 4 weekends (Sat-Sun) given work during the week + waiting for the dealer & RockAuto parts to come in.

    All parts came in at about ~$3,400 or so. Transmission was $1,840. We had 2 shops quote about $4k for ONLY transmission w/ installation - I got wayyyy more done for less than that price. No wonder so many newer cars wind up in the junkyard... I figured at a new car payment of $300/month, I broke-even if it lasted over 1 year. It has, but I still seem to have to put $$ into the thing :) Tires, exhaust, AC system, fuel pump, alternator, battery, chasing of a P0456 evap CEL (I will write a post about that), etc.
    Shane Giggie and LibertyTC like this.
  5. Leeann

    Leeann Full Access Member

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    Mar 9, 2013

    I put a known-good used trans in my '05 Liberty in my backyard, up on stands. I didn't feel like doing it in my gravel driveway, despite having coroplast to lay on.

    It took me over a month, but I wasn't in a rush. Didn't even find and order my trans until I was a month into the project.

    All in, including the trailer to get it home, fluids and other assorted parts not needed for the trans, it cost me under $2k. It's been great (knock on wood) for over 60k miles.
    Shane Giggie likes this.
  6. Shane Giggie

    Shane Giggie Full Access Member

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    Nov 26, 2019
    Well, I own a 06 Liberty with about 250,000kms. The trans has been holding up good so far I have had it for almost 4 years and with regular maintenance it's a strong running vehicle and I plan to keep running these jeeps for as long as possible.
    LONGJEEPOWNER likes this.